Health Care Reform: Tangible Benefits & Uncertain Future…

Over fourteen million beneficiaries have received at least one preventive service without cost-sharing since the beginning of 2012, according to a recent announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  In California, that number is 1,180,220 beneficiaries. Also, in the first 4 months of 2012 alone, more than 416,000 people saved an average of $724 on the prescription drugs they purchased after they hit the prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole,” for a total of $301.5 million in savings.

These statistics demonstrate some of tangible benefits millions of people are receiving from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010.

With the Supreme Court poised to make a decision on the constitutionality of the ACA, and with all California is gaining from this legislation and all it could loose, advocates are attentively awaiting the court’s ruling. Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times reported that California could lose as much as $15 billion annually in federal funding if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal health reform law. California has one of the largest uninsured populations in the nation, amounting to 7 million people, or 20% of the state’s residents. Because of this large population, under the ACA, California could receive up to $9 billion annually to expand Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, and another $6 billion annually for low- and middle-income residents who buy subsidized insurance through the state health insurance exchange.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on the ACA by the end of this month.

KQED’s State of Health, California Report provides a good source of information on the debate and the current Supreme Court case. See their latest article, Health Care Decision Hinges on a Crucial Clause and their website for more information.

Also, for more information on the effect of California’s high percentage of uninsured residents, see the newly released national study, Dying for Coverage: the Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured (PDF). According to the study, about 3,164 California residents between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely in 2010 because they lacked health insurance. The figure translates to about 61 residents per week. The article by New American Media, In CA, Thousands Die Prematurely for Lack of Health Insurance, also summarizes more of the California-specific details from this national study.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.